Month: May 2015

On To Something New

Kaytie Nielson

Kaytie Nielson

I’ve finally purchased my plane tickets, so it’s official: my mentor, Dr. Mame-Fatou Niang, and I will be filming our documentary in France this coming July. Our documentary will focus on the stories of young black women from the disenfranchised suburbs of Paris.

Dr. Niang is currently in the process of publishing a book on French writers of immigrant descent, and is well-versed in the developing field of Black French studies. Before we begin filming, she will guide me through preliminary research on our topic. After filming, the rest of the summer will be used to edit and produce the first version of this documentary.

During the school year, I will be working to produce a second version of the documentary. I’ll spend the fall semester diving into research on the documentary form, studying artistic methodology and technique. In the spring, I will re-approach the footage I collected in the summer to create a more experimental iteration of our documentary. By March 2016, I aim to have produced two films that express one important story in two very different ways.

Kaytie Nielson

Filming at the beach

But for now, I have other projects to finish so I can focus on the next one. Of my current film projects, the most demanding is the documentary I recently shot in India. This documentary follows the stories of three women living in different parts of India, and relies on imagery to relate their complex and contrasting experiences. My partners and I have been editing the footage all semester, and we plan to release the film this summer. Here’s a link to the trailer.

Well, it’s back to work I go. Thanks for reading!

Learn more about my project.

Getting Started

Kaylyn Kim

Kaylyn Kim

What an honor it is to be a part of the
Dietrich Honors Fellowship Program.

This is a dream come true for me—I have been immersing myself in the different types of research here in the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon University, but never anything to this scale. My project is going to be a labor-intensive project, but I believe in it and I believe in the importance of the findings. Not to mention, from the very beginning of the application process, I have received great enthusiasm and support from my advisor, Dr. Brooke Feeney.  I had lots of different ideas coming in, and Dr. Feeney was great at finding the core of my interests and channeling it in a positive direction.

What I’m most excited about is being completely in charge of a research project. In the past, I’ve worked on creating studies with research teams, and I realize that working very closely with a team and working by yourself are two completely different research experiences. With teams, although you get a variety of different skillsets to contribute to the research, you tend to compromise and adjust ideas to match the interests of others. I’m looking forward to working on a project that is completely based on my interests!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘so what?’ aspect of the study. From my time working in the Relationships Lab as an experimenter and coder, I’ve learned that jealousy is an extremely common area of conflict in relationships. I believe the findings will determine approaches to mend the well-being of a relationship in marriage counseling and other therapeutic settings. I plan on pursuing clinical psychology in the future, so it’s really cool to be working on a study with so many real-life implications. Also, it’ll shed light into an area of research that hasn’t been too closely looked at yet.

I’m so excited for the summer to start and get my project rolling! I shall keep you updated on my progress!

 Read more about me and my project.

Picking the Venue

I am beyond excited to get started researching the American music festival. As a person who thoroughly enjoys outdoor concerts (no matter the music), the idea of a festival study immediately enticed me.

Whilst at my most recent festival experience, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, I found myself doing a lot of people-watching. It was truly fascinating the way that patrons followed an unspoken code of conduct, in the form of widespread motto, “Radiate Positivity.”

From there I got to thinking about the reasons people go to festivals, along with the reasons I can deal with the smelly people, mud, and heat, while some other true music fans I know cannot. No matter what people try to say, it’s not just about the music. The only answer I could think of was about how the atmosphere plays a part.

Geneva Jackson 1-1

The view from inside our information tent at sunset on opening night, Bonnaroo 2015, Manchester, TN

The idea kept building as I processed the weeklong experience, compounded by a trip abroad in Spain, giving me the opportunity to listen to entirely different outdoor music. From street performers, to church festival music, to a flamenco show, the live music experiences I found while traveling in Spain differed dramatically from that in the U.S., so I didn’t connect the two until a peer of mine while abroad took an impromptu trip. She decided, completely last minute, to show up to a Spanish music festival in Granada with some local artisans she had met. Hearing her recap her trip, reveling in the experience despite distinctly not being the “festival type”, only served to confirm my thoughts that something about the atmosphere and collective act of watching a show is significant.

Geneva Jackson 1-2

Street performers in El Parque de Retiro also at sunset, Madrid, Spain 2015

What to do with this information, or how to pursue it further, didn’t dawn on me for a while after returning home. In a very odd realization one night late last August, I realized that maybe the thesis topic I was already trying to come up with which synthesized my unconventional course of study at CMU, and the pet theory about group identity and music festivals I had been harboring could be one in the same project! And so the ‘venue’ appeared: I could explore festival culture, at once expounding upon my interest in the general culture of the 1960s and 70s, as applying that study to the modern day. I could combine my interests in music, group dynamics, and outdoor lifestyles with my experiences putting on shows, and cultural studies. I got to learn about the music industry as I prepare to hopefully enter it, while still using my talents as a writer and historian. This research endeavor is truly the culmination of my high school and college interests, coming together in a way I never would have predicted. I feel so lucky to have you along for the ride!

Learn more about me and my project.